Is Telecommuting or Remote Work Covered Under ADA?

A chart breaks down the past 2 years showing that 30 percent of the worker wins on telework being an accommodation for people with disabilities. Work, tools, equipment, and buildings should be available and accessible to everyone. 

This idea is not new, in fact, it is the law. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) calls for measures to be taken by businesses to provide reasonable accommodations for their staff and customers so that anyone can have equal access to work and consume goods or services. What constitutes a reasonable accommodation is always an important part of the requirements. 

With the world of business changing in response to COVID-19, a good deal of work is now being done remotely. The question about remote work being a reasonable accommodation has come up more recently. As some news sources have pointed out, courts did not hold that ADA requires businesses to offer remote work as a reasonable accommodation. 

In this article, let’s go over reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities and how that may affect remote work. 

What are Reasonable Accommodations?

A common question that comes up in connection with the ADA is what is a reasonable accommodation. Think of a reasonable accommodation like a stepping stool for someone who cannot reach a top-shelf. They are still doing the work of picking up the object, but they have a tool that makes it possible for them to grab it. Reasonable accommodations are changes in the workplace to make work accessible to everyone. These accommodations can help people with disabilities to perform parts of their job or apply to jobs. Some examples of accommodations include:

  • Making the facilities of a location more accessible to all
  • Modification of schedules or places of work
  • Extended leave
  • Telework or remote work
  • Modifications to equipment, devices, or policies

Telework/Remote Work and Reasonable Accommodations

Workplaces can change and people can still accomplish their tasks. Some people have different needs than others, but that doesn’t mean they are incapable of performing the work - just less likely to be successful if they would need to do it in the same way. 

Much work has shifted to remote work over the last twenty years, more so recently. Businesses have seen the benefits of their staff working remotely or through telework programs. Telework also boosts employee morale and productivity while striking a more comfortable work/life balance. Technology has evolved to the point where we can now work remotely from a location other than an office and still be successful.

Technical advancements also provide more opportunities to make work available to those with disabilities. All jobs cannot be done remotely. Similarly, not all people with disabilities would want to telework. However, creating an opportunity for an employee to telework may boost that employee’s performance. Consider offering some of the day or some of the work to be done remotely. Remember to make further accommodations for those who would need them than those not falling under the ADA’s protected status.

Find an Attorney to Protect Your Rights Under the ADA

Remember, the ADA demands that employers make accommodations for work to be done by all qualified individuals. However, it doesn’t necessarily spell out what those accommodations are in terms of telework programs. Accommodations must be made for individuals, but they are more likely to be legitimate if they are reasonable for the employer to provide. If you feel your rights aren’t being protected, contact the disability law experts at Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Bonanni & Rivers. Our team will help you through the legal process of restoring your rights.

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